Unveiling Beauty Tech: Dr. Robb Akridge's Path to Top Inventions

Robb Akridge (Dr. Robb) is the Founder and CEO of REA Innovations, Inc., the creator of the skin care brand OPULUS Beauty Labs. The brand has been recognized by TIME as one of the top 100 inventions of 2021. As a multifaceted scientist with expertise spanning botany, HIV/AIDS research, and skincare technology, Dr. Robb began his entrepreneurial journey with Sonicare toothbrushes and later co-founded Clarisonic, a brand that transformed the beauty industry.

Apple Podcasts
Player FM
Amazon Music
Tune In

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [2:27] Why bridging the gap between science and consumers is crucial in today's marketplace
  • [7:09] How visual representations simplify complex scientific concepts for consumers
  • [15:12] OCULUS Beauty Labs’ unique approach to creating fresh, potent skin care products
  • [18:47] The challenges OCULUS faced with an initial PR surge and supply chain issues
  • [23:17] Insights into the evolving landscape of advertising and marketing
  • [27:38] The power of influencers and their impact on brand popularity and sales
  • [37:49] How to make a product desirable
  • [46:53] Robb Akridge’s experiences and lessons learned from live appearances on QVC
  • [57:22] The personal drive and enduring belief that helped Dr. Robb achieve his goals despite challenges
  • [1:04:58] Dr. Robb describes his environmental efforts to improve salmon habitats on his property

In this episode…

Consumers have become increasingly savvy about their purchases, demanding product transparency and authenticity. Yet too much information can be overwhelming, especially with science-based products. In this case, the science behind the products should be communicated simply and effectively. Does simplification compromise the products’ integrity?

Scientist, innovator, and business executive Robb Akridge understands how to transform complicated scientific concepts into compelling, consumer-friendly narratives that educate and captivate customers. When distilling complex information into easily digestible material, he emphasizes clear communication, visual storytelling, and tapping into shared human experiences to resonate with consumers and increase product appeal. You can also leverage influencers to introduce products when the market is primed and convey benefits that shape consumer perspectives.

Tune in to this episode of the Up Arrow Podcast as William Harris chats with Robb Akridge, the Founder and CEO of REA Innovations, Inc., about bridging scientific complexity and consumer appeal. Dr. Robb sheds light on the intricacies of marketing, the effectiveness of influencers, and the critical role of timing in product popularity.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Quotable Moments:

  • "They want to know you've done the science, but they really just want to know what it's going to do for them."
  • "It's more important to be confident in yourself than to fear what you haven't done yet."
  • "The whole idea of being cool is about the timing and the mindset of the consumer."
  • "You have to marry an innovative concept so that it's close enough to the familiar, not so bizarre that it's scary."
  • "The power of the mind can indeed change and help your body."

Action Steps:

  1. Focus on bridging the gap between complex science and consumer understanding in product development. This is effective because, as Dr. Robb discusses, customers appreciate knowing that the science is sound but prefer simplicity in explanations.
  2. Use visual demonstrations to showcase product benefits. Dr. Robb's success proves that simple visuals can effectively capture consumer interest and boost sales.
  3. Leverage the power of personal visualization to achieve goals. Drawing on scientific studies, visualization can help to manifest success in various areas of life.
  4. Build a brand with authenticity and relatability through influencer marketing. The evolution of influencer marketing towards genuine connections can lead to more impactful promotions and sales.
  5. Contribute to environmental causes as part of business operations. Dr. Robb's dedication to salmon habitat improvement demonstrates how businesses can have a positive impact beyond their immediate industry.

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Elumynt. Elumynt is a performance-driven e-commerce marketing agency focused on finding the best opportunities for you to grow and scale your business.

Our paid search, social, and programmatic services have proven to increase traffic and ROAS, allowing you to make more money efficiently.

To learn more, visit www.elumynt.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03

Welcome to the Up Arrow Podcast with William Harris, featuring top business leaders sharing strategies and resources to get to the next level. Now, let's get started with the show.

William Harris  0:16  

Hey, everyone, I'm William Harris. I'm the founder and CEO of Elumynt and the host of the Up Arrow Podcast where I feature the best minds in e-commerce to help you scale from 10 million to 100 million and beyond. My goal is to help you up arrow your business in your personal life. I'm really excited about the guests that I have here today, Robb Akridge, PhD, or Dr. Robb as he's affectionately known. He's a multifaceted scientist, self described nerd. I'm right there with you, and entrepreneur. His expertise spans botany, HIV one gum disease in skincare. His entrepreneurial journey began with Sonicare toothbrushes leading to co founding Clarisonic a brand that revolutionized the beauty industry. Currently, he's making waves with OCULUS Beauty Labs hailed by time as one of the top 100 inventions of 2021. And dubbed the Nespresso of skincare. Dr. Robb, I'm excited to have you here.

Robb Akridge  1:07  

Well, I'm glad to be here. It's good to see you. Likewise,

William Harris  1:11

I do want to give a shout out to Bobby DiFazio over at media skill partners for putting us in touch. He's a smart guy, I got to have dinner with him in New York, just last year when I was speaking in event there, but Bobby, thanks for putting us in touch.

Robb Akridge  1:26  

Yeah, Bobby's awesome is high energy, very positive, always focused. And he's, he's a great guy.

William Harris  1:32  

Yeah, I appreciate him a lot. Um, real quick, I want to announce our sponsor. And then I want to get into the good stuff here. This episode is brought to you by Elumynt Elumynt is an award winning advertising agency optimizing e-commerce campaigns around profit. In fact, we've helped 13 of our customers get acquired with the largest one selling for nearly 100 million in one that IPO recently. You can learn more on our website at elumynt.com, which is spelled ELUMYNT.com. That said, into the fun stuff, we're gonna be talking about bridging the gap between science and customers, customers, and Dr. Robb, is gonna share some of his insights into his journey touching his Latino heritage and experiences in front of the camera at QVC. I want to start first with the bridging the gap between science and consumers. And let's start with do we need to like it if we didn't, why? Why do we need to bridge the gap between science and customers? Yeah, I

Robb Akridge  2:27  

think we do need to not just because I'm a scientist. And that's what I love. That's my passion, right? The thing is, is that our consumers are getting more and more savvy, they're asking more questions about the products they're using. But the truth is, Will is that they want to know that you've done the science, but they really don't want to know the details. Because if they know the details, it just their eyes glaze over. And they sort of just don't really listen to you. So they want to know that it's been done. And they want to know what is it going to do for them. That's more important. So you've done the science, you know that it's safe, you know that it's effective. Now, what's it going to do for me? And how am I going to look better in the cosmetic world. So that's, that's the key thing.

William Harris  3:06  

I liked that it reminds me of when I start talking about sirtuin one through seven with my wife. And that conversation is very fast, right? So sirtuins being the things that are like kind of being activated by sometimes different periods of fasting and stuff like that, which helped with regeneration of DNA and everything. And I'll start talking about that. And, you know, my wife is kind of like it, I'm done. I get experience, to your point, why we need to not go too deep into that and find that bridge that gap. What are examples that you've had to bridge the gap with then between some of the different science components of Sonicare Clarisonic OPULUS, where you're saying, Hey, this is too far into the weeds well

Robb Akridge  3:50

for for Sonicare. And well for Clarisonic really is that we are doing something that it's for, by the way, for those that don't know what Clarisonic is, it's for cleansing the skin and uses sonic technology. The challenge there was that everybody's using these their hands or face cloth, and you had to explain to them how this was going to be better how it's going to be gentle on their skin. And they don't want to know that it's moving at 30,000 strokes a second and that it just goes over a five degree amplitude, and the fibers are certain the length and the diameter and all those things that we have to develop and make sure that they really are there. So that works. They just want to know that it's going to get their skin six times cleaner than they can with their hands. And so then that then the next question is why do I need to get something six times cleaner? And the answer is because that means that there's less barrier between what you're applying later on than the dirt that would have been there if your skin wasn't really clean. So in other words, you're basically getting a really clean slate allow product to absorb. So if you just say it's proven science uses solid technology, very similar to Sonic toothbrushes, but it's gentle enough to use on the skin and you can get your skin six times cleaner which means As the products you apply absorb better, then they get it. But if you start talking about all the mechanics, and people just sort of go away, they don't want to hear about it. Yeah, it was clear. Yeah, it's easy to fall into that trap to give too much information, because we have a lot of it in OPULUS. And I will show you just because I've got my, you know, my cameras, I've got cameras. So, so this is a cooking set here. But it basically, OPULUS, we've got this appliance that basically transforms whatever we create, which are these little capsules into a final product. And we can get talk about this later. But the challenge is to let people know these are not solid, we've actually created a way to process or tamper cosmetic ingredients so that we can actually make it into different shapes to preserve any kind of actives that are in there. But to tell people, you know, this is all the all the details in the chemistry, they don't want to hear about it. So that's why people have gone to gravitating Oh, it's the Nespresso of skincare. Because when you look at the way we we lay out all our products, we put them into little like expresso packaging. So people gravitate to that. And as long as they know that, and they know chocolate, then they know that by using those two similarities or two things that they're familiar with, you can say, Oh, we've created this new way to apply cosmetic assists, more potent, especially activated by you, and as a single dose, and you're ready to go. So

William Harris  6:25  

I like that, is it? Is it hard for you, as a self professed nerd, to not want to geek out over all of the complexity that goes into this instead? Just boiling it down to these simple terms? Yeah,

Robb Akridge  6:39  

what happens is usually have marketing people there that say, well, or salespeople, you know, I've tried that pitch and their eyes glaze over, it's just too much information. So I'm always aware, especially like when we were when I was on QVC. With, with Clarisonic, it's, you have such a limited amount of time to get your point across, it's that elevator pitch. So you really don't have time to get into details. And even when you do, then it's a disaster, because you don't have enough time to really explain it fully. And so people just don't know what you're talking about.

William Harris  7:09  

Yeah. And so I wanted to get into the practicalities of this, which is, how do you actually go about dialing this back in a very real way? You have the ability to explain things in a simple way. But for other people who maybe are outside of that, you know, how can they and I run into this all the time where I see ads, that somebody's running, that it's feature, feature, feature feature feature, right? And it's really getting into the weeds of these different things? How can people look at their ads more objectively, other people they need to bring in to do this, you mentioned, you know, salesperson says I tried pitching that that didn't work people's eyes glaze over? How do you kind of get the feedback and in the process that you need to effectively go from this is highly scientific to this is actually going to work in the consumer mind.

Robb Akridge  7:57  

Usually, it's a visual, some type of visual like with Clarisonic, we basically had this fluorescent makeup do with that function is dirt, and we would apply it to half we played it to the forehead and half, we cleanse manually with a specific standardized fashion and the other side, we cleanse with a clarisonic. And because it was at fluorescent makeup, you could put under UV blacklight. And you can see how much makeup was there before cleansing and how much it was after. And new music, say using sign technology, you can get your skin six times cleaner than you can by hand. And they can just see the before and after shift. So you have to keep it really tight. I think adds, unfortunately, true print ads are becoming history, like in magazines, because they're sort of fading away. But the idea is not to put too much information. The challenge I'm seeing now with a lot of drug ads, is they're having to put all these side effects and all these things and you don't even know what the drugs for. So it becomes very confusing to the consumer. You think well what was that for? Do I need that and and what was that call, and I always put initials in there to confuse the consumer. So they don't really understand what the acronyms are. So that's another challenge. But yeah, you're right, it's too much information and people just don't get it.

William Harris  9:02  

Well, it's your point. I like the idea of a visual. It reminds me of an ad that we didn't design we ran for a company called Orose, which is an outdoor apparel company. And they used this basically like aerogel like this space aerogel to make very very well insulated coats. And rather than talk about like the nitty gritty science behind this aerogel and how that's so much better. They had the coat and they had like a thermometer and then they sprayed the coat with with liquid nitrogen and showed that it was still warm on the inside. You're like, Okay, I got it. I don't need to understand the science. But now it makes sense. This is a really warm jacket.

Robb Akridge  9:44  

Right? I'm going to keep toasty. I'm not going to freeze to death. Right. That's the important break. Yeah,

William Harris  9:50  

so I want to shift into OPULUS a little bit. You showed us a little bit of this because I think this is a really interesting cool thing but best in VR pension of the year?

Robb Akridge  10:00

That's right. That's not a small thing. Yes.

William Harris  10:04  

Yeah. You know, why is this? Why did time decide that of all the inventions that exist out there, this is one of the 100 best inventions.

Robb Akridge  10:13

The reason I think we actually won is because we truly are novel, we have taken concepts that exist in other areas, like in the chocolate industry, and concepts that exist in, you know, basically, instant coffee, you know, like the Nespresso pods, and we've married that together, but in a totally different industry. So it's truly unique. I think the challenge right now we're having with the cosmetic industry is there's so many products coming out. And there really are a lot of them are the same, right? They're just a different marketing campaign, a different label, different new ingredient. Whereas with us, we're actually changing the way people think about cosmetics entirely. We're giving them the ability to have single dose, freshly activated, sort of like compounding your own cosmetics right before your eyes in only 100 seconds. So that is something that is true advantage to our product. And that's why I think they gave us the award.

William Harris  11:07  

How did you come up with this idea? What like, Were you just, you know? Yeah.

Robb Akridge  11:18  

I was actually in a really fancy chocolate shop. And I was, you know, partaking. And I thought, wow, each chocolate is like a work of art. Each one tastes differently, and each one has a different texture. Why can't cosmetics be like this, these single doses and, and right now, if you look at your cosmetic jars, those jars had been designed based on all shopping habits and department stores where women would not to be sexist, but women would come into the beauty department every four months, or every three months, and then they would buy the product and they replenish every three months. So us is like now it's like why don't we have something that's a single dose that people can use at the moment and create it fresh, so they know that they're getting really good ingredients, beneficial ingredients. And that process of taking that concept of like a chocolate hardshell candy with a cream of the center. And turning that into cosmetic ingredients is what's really unique about us because we figured out a way, I don't know how much you know about chocolate. But if you took just a chocolate block, and you melted it and you put it into a mold or create a sphere, you can do that. And then you fill it with the cream and you cap it and now you got this chocolate candy. While it would fall apart, the cream would start migrating through that the chocolate would melt at a lower temperature. So you have all kinds of problems. So chocolate tears, it figured out haha, we can process this chocolate, and well we can do is create crystals. And as we go to this heating, it's all liquid phase. But as it goes through heating and cooling, the crystals change their size, and all of a sudden they reach a point where they're just the right size, they'll fit together. And so that's what you call tempering. And so now they poured into that mold, create a sphere and fill it and now it's rigid, hard and it's more sturdy and it's durable. Well, we figured out how to do that with cosmetic ingredients. And so we basically created a shell of material that you can actually form into any shape, and then you fill it with another formula. So now you can have beneficial ingredients on the outside and then ingredients on the inside. And that allows you to have basically gotten rid of the bottle. So let me go back to if you don't mind. I'll show you this real quickly if you so if you look at this actual optimal, it that's we call it their capsules, there's actually two layers. So this outside layer is part of the final formula. And the inside layer is a different formula. And they mixed together through the actual activator. And so what we could do is actually the other one that we've done is we've created these little bars, think of them as like, Hershey's chocolate bars, and we actually just take two squares, and I'm gonna go Is it okay, if I blend one? Let's do it. Okay, so go ahead and take this, and this is the activator. And the activator is really cool, has a powder coated aluminum bowl, there's a wraparound heater on the backside, he put two squares in. And this is a vitamin C concentrate. And this vitamin C, this bar has vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid. And the challenge with that is that those ingredients are very fragile. And what we discovered is that when you actually temper these ingredients, the the cosmetic ingredients, you can add in beneficial ingredients during the tempering process and it'll stabilize it. So all you have to do is just take some water and we provide you with the spoon and you add it in there. And you put the lid on. Push a button and that light starts right there that starts the 102nd cycle. What's happening is this actual mole here, the bowl is heating up rapidly. And it basically melts anything that's solid, and then in the lid there's a small little blade. And because we can actually drive this power into here, it basically goes through this process of it starts spinning and as you can see in the lights hopefully that they're going around and around and that allows you to get a mixing, slow mixing at the very end, it accelerates rapidly. And it creates shear force which brings everything together. So I know I'm sort of geeking out, but basically what, really, what the mini

William Harris  15:12  

aesthetic crucible, it's really exactly

Robb Akridge  15:15  

as Exactly. And the other thing about it, just look at the packaging. It's all, it's all paper. So every cosmetic industry, every cosmetic company out there is trying to figure out, how will we able to create less impact on the environment, and a lot of them are doing really dumb things, or they're giving you the main bottle to start with. And then they sell you all these small, thin pouches, which is still plastic to refill your main bottle, it's like it's not really sort of just minimizing, we've actually gotten rid of the bottle, you can think of our activator as your forever cosmetic jar. It's like your compounding personal compounding pharmacy. So yeah, so it's, and it's actually I don't know if you can hear it going. It's actually still blending. And what happens is in 100 seconds, it turns it into a product, it can be a moisturizer, it can be a conditioner, it can be a face gel, we can create anything, we want hair products. So it's getting ready to stop in two seconds. So you can see the lights going around. And when I think about what it what it is, it's also that visual, we're talking about how the consumers want to see something. And I think they want to be surprised. So when you open this up, it's changed. I don't know if you can see it because of the lighting on the on the camera. But basically, now you've got this warmth, and it's about 105 107 degrees Fahrenheit, so it absorbs rapidly. And then it goes on smoothly. And then next thing you know, it absorbs and you're just left with a powdered fishy finish. So this is actually a daily moisturizer, but it has vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid, which are very unstable. And a lot of products are in liquid form, they start out sort of orange, and then within two weeks of opening the bottle, they turn brown. And the other thing is it smells funny, this is stable, it's white, it's not going anywhere you activate it yourself. And now you have freshly activated skincare. Brilliant.

William Harris  17:06  

This is truly a really interesting idea, brilliant idea. Even just the idea of the environmental impact, I'm I'm thoroughly impressed that that was a much cooler experience than I was anticipating getting into on the podcast.

Robb Akridge  17:20  

And it's easy to claim to deny the claim. But you can put us pull the little blade out, rinse it off, like the bullet out and you're ready to go for the next one. But you do I would really want to talk to you. I don't know if you've ever interviewed the CEO for Couric coffee, VO gamma or gamma. He actually you know, that's the problem with the Couric and Nespresso is they have all these plastic pods. And they even in a recent article, he admitted that he wish he would have never invented it because of all the plastic that's still happening. But they've come out with a new pod, just like we've come out with the the optimal, and which is made out of algae. And he actually can then yeah, so now you're not going to be causing this, you know, huge impact on the landfill. But I would love to talk to him, because he's probably one of the few people that really would get what we're doing. Because it's like, Okay, we have basically gotten rid of the bottle. But we've also provide the consumer with fresher, more active, more potent ingredients, which then allow us to see better results to the earlier question, what do consumers want to know, they don't want to know all the science and stuff. They just want to see the beautiful before and afters that we've done with our studies. So yeah,

William Harris  18:28  

so I can see why this time magazine got excited about this. And that led to a whole slew of Acts, exciting wins for you and other PR opportunities with OPULUS. But then I understand that was maybe not the most exciting thing in the world here. What was the problem with all of this PR?

Robb Akridge  18:47  

Well, you know, because of my past with Clarisonic, we had a tsunami of press at launch. And that was May of 2021. Or maybe it was no it was March of 2021. Right in the middle of the pandemic. So we had supply chain issues, we had very few of the active activators that we think we had, like I think we had like 60 of these. Wow. And so you know, and historically, it's Sonicare and Clarisonic. We built everything in house. Everything is assembled here in the United States parts come from our offshore but we build them here. And that was in Bellevue, Washington and up in Snoqualmie. But now I thought okay, I'm not going to do that because it takes a lot of money to create an assembly line to keep people going and, and that type of thing. So I went ahead and went externally for someone a third party to sell it to us at wholesale. So we get these activators wholesale. Well, they just couldn't do it. I mean, it was just a mess. And so basically, I had to stop and 2021 when we had this tsunami of press and bring everything in house. We are a vertically integrated company. We make all those cosmetic products that you see we make them all ourselves we assemble all the activators we assemble those are ourselves right here on Bainbridge Island, Washington. But it took about a year to get that going. And then after that, I had to start building inventory. So in 2022, is first half the year was building the inventory, and then started selling at the end of 2022, which means that that tsunami of press had already waned. So it's like, Okay, gotta get the word out, you know, and it's like, that's the tough part these days is awareness building is a mess is

William Harris  20:26

it is? Well, and I'll say that, you know, a lot of people have cracked awareness in other ways. Advertising, pros and cons. They're, you know, influencers, pros and cons there. And there's, there's waves to ride and things like that. But one that I find challenging for a lot of brands is the PR stuff, which you seem to have gotten down. Well, now, it was easier you said because of previous contacts with Sonicare. But when you started in the first place, how did you go about getting those initial contacts and building up to be able to get the press that you wanted?

Robb Akridge  21:02  

Right, so the Sonicare, the press has already been I went to Sonicare that had already launched, I was an early member in the pioneer days, I was senior scientist at Sonicare. And then was put in charge of science for litigation, which is a whole other story, because our major competitor was suing us left and right, trying to crush us. Luckily, in 2000, we sold at Philips, and usually when a big Titan, another big Titan, they don't want to waste their money. So everything calmed down. But the thing is, is that when it comes to, you know, oh, God, I lost my train of thought. We're talking about how

William Harris  21:33

to get those initial PR contacts and get Oh, yeah.

Robb Akridge  21:36  

So when I saw when I went to Manhattan with Clarisonic, you know, it was all gung ho, we're gonna go ahead and go to Manhattan with Clarisonic and do desk sides, we go around to the different publishing houses and talk to all the reporters, no one wanted to talk to us. And then the only way we got in is by saying, Oh, he's related, he's, you know, comes from Sonicare. Toothbrush, one of the guys from Sonicare. And that got us into the door to talk to all these reporters. And then but we were, we were a start up again. So we were schlepping literally can carrying all the product to give away to all these reporters through Manhattan in the middle of summer, and heat and humidity. And it's just the dues you have to pay when you start a new brand. So when it came to OPULUS, beauty labs, people knew me from Clarisonic. So there were more and it was more in the same industry. It wasn't dental, and then beauty. So it was beauty to beauty. So they were really most of those women and men had interviewed me many times. So it was really easy just to walk in and start talking to them.

William Harris  22:35  

I I can appreciate that. And I liked that idea of just like you said schlepping the product, carrying it around and getting it out there to everybody. It reminds me of something that we do in other areas, too, even when it comes to advertising or influencer, which is do the things that don't scale. It's one of the things that I love saying to people, where sometimes when you're first getting started, yeah, you can scale add, sometimes you have to do something that's not necessarily going to scale, you just have to do the hard work, do that thing. And that could be you know, manually bringing product out to people or flying out to meet with a potential client or whatever that might be. And that's not scalable, but it's effective by those initial stage to get that traction that you need to get.

Robb Akridge  23:17  

Yeah, you do. Yeah. And you never know who you talk, who talk to might be somebody that they know somebody. And then next thing, you know, off you go. You know, right now the market marketing market is so fragmented, it's hard to actually crack unless you have a big budget, and you can start talking to a bunch of influencers, you know, and in the early days, it was, you know, print ads, I think we were going to talk about that on if this is the time or not, but, but it's exactly

William Harris  23:42

the time. That's what I have on here, which was I wanted to talk about the old days, the old days that you know, Clarisonic and print ads. And I think you talked about you knew distribution, right? Like,

Robb Akridge  23:53  

right, right? So the thing is, is it early days of Clarisonic, we did not take out one print ad for 10 years, it was all grassroot building, somebody would tell somebody else the you know, one girlfriend to the next mom to daughter, etc. And that's how we built it. Of course, we did have help with someone in 2007 named Oprah Winfrey, who put us up as one of their our favorite things. And the next thing you know, it was just explosion and we were everywhere. But it's it's it was slow grass roots building, which has a really shallow slope when it comes to growth. But then, we started taking out print ads, because we were so popular. And that ad budget started growing rapidly. And it was really easy to do. I mean, as far as getting them you know, we would have a calendar and one month every other month, we'd be in Martha Stewart or we'd be on Oprah Winfrey or we'd be and you know, Mary Claire, and we had this whole calendars half page, full page, double page, front of the magazine, back of the magazine, all those things had different price points. I don't know if you know that or not, but if you're in the back of the mag Xen is less than is at the front. And if you're on the right side, it's more than therefore on the left side, etc. So we went through the whole thing, and we would have this HK marketing campaign or ads. And it was great about it is because if you know, if you remember magazines, people would buy them. The next thing, you know, they might take it to work, or they would go to their salon, and they'd see that same magazine there. So once you place one ad, and let's say, Elle Magazine, you will see it multiple places in your life, you might be at the gym and on the treadmill, you can pick up a magazine, you start reading it and get exercise while you're reading. But you know, the thing is, is that that has a longevity to it. So you The challenge always is how much am I getting on? Those magazines are ROI, right? And it's really hard to tell. So a lot of the upper management don't want to support ad campaigns and magazines, because they didn't know how much money they're going to get back from their $100,000 one page ad, right. So the challenge that we had is like, Okay, we don't really know, we know that people are seeing us in these magazines, but we didn't know how much money we're making out of it. But those things had a longevity longer than nowadays, when you do an influencer, and you paid them to mention it. And they mentioned it and then 1520 seconds later it's gone. And so it's like, okay, now you have to pulse the machine more. It's not like you post it once a month, now you're having to punch it all the time. And the other thing is no one wants to see the same visual, everybody, you see the same thing over and over again. So now you're having to build more creative content, you're having to have a larger influencer base to talk about it. And it just gets to be a point. And guess what, they're 5000 10,000 new influencers every day. So and they're all talking to these narrow little markets. So you know, there's the mega influencers, and then there's a micro influencers, and then there's the Nano influencers, and there's the influencers that only I talked to one person, right, so it's like, so you have to figure, you have to figure out how you're going to do this and mega influencers, it could be $250,000, for 15 minutes, you know, their time. And the challenging thing now is that the consumer that's watching these influences, they go, they're paid off, then I'm not going to believe them anymore. And that's when they start losing their credibility. And that's when you really have trouble because now who you're going to believe, and so it's really changed because the market is so fragmented to get a message out to everybody. You know, back in the really old days, there was only ABC, CBS and NBC and beat up PBS. And you put an ad on there, and you capture a huge part of the market, right nowadays, forget it and this fragmented.

William Harris  27:38

So there's benefits that fragmentation to a point where it's like you said, you can get very, very niche in that whereas, you know, in broadcast, you're reaching a whole lot of people that aren't relevant to but have you seen a difference between mega influencers and nano influencers, in your own stuff as far as which one's more effective, because sometimes people are a little bit scared to jump to like, the bigger influencers, and they say, let's just stick with these nano influencers will send a free product or benefit to that, but there's something to be said for a name that recognize that in your own experience. Have you seen anything beneficial one way or another?

Robb Akridge  28:17  

So Clarisonic yet it Clarisonic? We don't want mentioned the influencer but a clarisonic we actually wanted to go with this influencer and she wanted like 200,200 $50,000 for 15 minutes. We said there's no way we can pay that and it's just not in our budget. So let's do this. Let's give you a flat rate. And then a commission on this is before people were getting Commission's on thanks affiliates. And she went on and she sold almost like a million dollars in 15 minutes. And she made more off of a commission that she would have made in that 15 minutes just as paying up front. And we made more money than we thought we would ever make in 15 minutes from one person and the influencer. So you do have that. But then there's other situations I've seen where companies they've actually built a brand around somebody that would have like 4 million followers. They say oh my gosh, this woman has 4 million followers and she's known in makeup and she's got all so let's create a makeup brand under her name. And we'll go ahead and and launch it and the next thing you know they launched it out there. Well there's one huge mistake in that 4 million followers does not mean 4 million customers. It means that people are there to see how she applies makeup. They want to be part of her life. They want to part of her lifestyle. They want to sort of mimic her they can relate to her and somehow but it doesn't mean they're going to buy stuff. So you can do that in the I actually know there's actually there's a huge mess because they made a brand they launched it and there are no sales so yeah, so it's a it's

William Harris  29:56  

we've seen that happen a lot lately, Mr. Beast with a Uh, you know, what is it five John blank on his company that he's launched, but that's done very well. But then you've got other ones who was it Dax Shepard? And, oh, what's her name? From Veronica Mars, I, you know, they launched a brand that kind of went under. And so there is that idea where it's like, just because you have a lot of followers doesn't necessarily mean that they're customers. And that's hard.

Robb Akridge  30:24  

It is hard, you know, and then so what you have to do now is I think you do a little test as a startup, we grabbed, you know, a certain group, you know, that that have like a certain a to your point, you're talking to more specialized audience when you talk to an influencer. So you're not just broadcasting it to everybody out there. But we do tests of five or six influencers or 10, just to see how that audience that they, you know, interact with, reacts to our product and whether or not they're actually purchasing. We still haven't cracked the code on that yet. I mean, we're still looking on how we can amplify that. And we did find one group that had a lot of sororities like they were basically people that were in sororities to college age women, and they were actually had small followings, but their following was very dedicated to the individual. So you know, you could see some lift in that. And they would, and that's the other thing is that just for those of you that have a startup, it's not so much about how much you're going to be able to sell what the influencer, it's also about how much they can create as far as content that you can use, again, to post elsewhere. And that's the other challenge is that you want to make sure you create some on brand content from these influencers so that you can use it over and over again. Yeah. 100%

William Harris  31:42  

with you as an advertising agency, I'm more concerned with the content that we're getting from the influencer than we are from any sales that we get from them. Because, you know, they can only have 10,000 followers. But if they have good content, I can amplify that 2 million people pretty easily.

Robb Akridge  31:56  

Exactly. Yeah. And that's it. And we had a horrible experience. But we went out and we gave away a lot of product. Only guys, I think it was 15 people posting out of out of 30. And then out of the 30 out of the 15 there was only like two or three that we actually thought were good enough to represent our brand. You know, so it's just a challenge, it will want to tell you it's a challenge. No,

William Harris  32:21  

it is what I also liked that you brought up affiliate, the whole affiliate idea from an influencer perspective, let's say like not the affiliates like you would think of like an affiliate website, but influencer affiliates. I gotta give a shout out to Jordan Erickson, Jordan is the owner of a company called Crush River, which I am also an investor in. And that's what they do is tick tock affiliates. In basically to your point where it's like on TikTok shop, you can work with hundreds of people who have lots of great followings not to create content, and they're only getting paid based on them actually generating sales for you, which is a different model from like you said, the influencers that will say, Hey, pay me $10,000, but might not result in anything, at least there's some kind of like a guarantee that you're gonna get something. And to your point, you might pay more for it, but at least there was something to it.

Robb Akridge  33:15  

Right? Well, the other thing is, we can talk again, how old magazines have now changed now that they're digital, etc. You know, in the old days, and as you know, in advertising, there were two branches, there was the sales side where you would purchase that one page ad. And then there were the free mentions where you see like, wills often Santro pay, what is he going to take with him, Oh, he's going to take his, you know, OPULUS beauty labs with him. And he's gonna take and all those mentions come from death size, where you go in and you would get a 20 minute interview with a freelancer or beauty editor, and they would write up about that product in that particular thing. And it was free. It's a free mention. Well, what happened is that all the influencers started getting money from what they're doing through affiliate programs. So now the publishing companies say wait a minute, we don't want it to be free anymore, we want to be able to make money off of that, too. So they created this affiliate program. So whenever you go in and it's got the free mentioned, this is available at Amazon are available wherever you click that and then what happens there's a whole software program, as you know, that are out there, they can divide up the margin, the brand gets so much percentage, the retail store that's going there gets a percentage. And because the ad company name one, whichever publishing house it is they get a percentage. So it's all now totally digital, and it's seamless, but it's not free anymore.

William Harris  34:35  

Right. So if I was going to summarize kind of all of these different things, let's say from PR, to affiliates to influencers, even the print ads themselves, which I actually still do have some magazine subscriptions. One of the ones is Popular Mechanics. I actually still really like a physical magazine and maybe that's because I'm okay you too, right? Yeah. is because I'm behind a computer all day long. But the crux of all of this is, how to be cool. It may be I can't think of a better way to word it, but but the idea is how to get your product to be something that people say, I want this. And it goes beyond like you said, it's not about talking about the features, because the features or the science behind it doesn't make it cool. But all of these things, the influencers can make a cool PR can make it cool. We've seen this happen to the Stanley Cups. Yes, yeah, celebrities can make it cool. Like there's all of these, there's the print ads made it cool, when that was a more relevant channel. And I'd say there's still relevance to it. It's just maybe less so than it was. What do you have, as far as what you've seen, be able to help something become cool?

Robb Akridge  35:52  

Well, I know from personal experience, when you invent something like you can say, I'm going to create, like a electric car, and it's going to be able to go hundreds of miles, and it's gonna be less impact on the environment. You could say that, but if you said that in 1950s, people would say electric, what do you what are you talking about? Am I gonna get shocked? Why would I get into this thing? So it has to do with the timing and the mindset of the consumer and whether or not they're willing to accept it for that moment. Because if you come up with something too early, just think about the whole horse and steam buggy thing that happened 2000 years ago, it seems like that people didn't want to leave their horses, they want to keep riding hard. So why would I want to get into this machine. And so there's got to be a lot of things have to converge. For it to really be a success, it has to be something that is something they've never seen before, but not so bizarre that they're afraid of it. So like a toothbrush, but now it powered or a cleansing brush, but now it's thought Sonic, or no longer have to have a jar product that can have individual doses. They know that like, take OPULUS, they know that from their coffee experience, they can get a little individual coffee, they can get individual cosmetics, they can get individual chocolates, so you have to marry it so that it's close enough. So it's not scary, because a lot of people think technology is scary. And you have to make it simple. You have to make it simple to use. And it just it's about timing. Is it or is the consumer ready for it? Right? And then it has to be magical. Has to be met. Yes,

William Harris  37:23  

I liked that word. We've talked about that before. And we've got some other things about that later. So let's say that you found something that's innovative, or things that even aren't that innovative. Stanley Cup is one that I like to reference because I have teenage daughters in there for a while. Like that was the thing you had to have as a teenage girl, you had to have a Stanley Cup and it had to be a different color from all the rest of your

Robb Akridge  37:48


William Harris  37:49  

There you go. Okay. But but not that long ago, they were a construction workers cup. It was not the teenage middle schoolers cup. But they found a way without really innovating anything significantly from what they were to what they are, they found a way to be cool. Outside of the innovation approach, in your experience, have you found other ways to become cool to become that thing?

Robb Akridge  38:19  

Yeah, well, I just know just examples of that. And in particular, I'm thinking about hush puppy shoes, and also 50 Shades of Grey. The book, I've read a lot about that. And actually there's a book called biology bui ology, way back in, I think the 80s Or maybe it was early 90s. Maybe it must have been in the 90s. Anyway, they talk about how things that weren't cool anymore, like hush puppy shoes. I guess the there was a time period when all these teenagers like 1520 of them went to the nightclubs in Manhattan's and they all wore hush puppy shoes. And everybody else thought, wow, that's really weird. And then all sudden, people thought, oh, no, that's cool. So you know, it just sort of changes their mindset because it has to be put into a setting. Not in a nightclub, you wouldn't wear hush puppies to nightclubs, but then they made it sort of like that's the thing, right? And then I think the other thing is like the whole, the way that 50 Shades of Grey from what I've read actually got so popular is that the rider actually was part of a riding club. And she she was getting her work back and forth. There was share and it was a digital club. And what ended up happening is that she wrote the book, she had some cocktail party, and all of the people there posted at the same time. And what that did is it gave this bolus of information going out on the web at the same time which amplified her message. Because when people talk about something becoming viral, it's not one person talking to another person and it is sort of spreading. It's like how can you get that megaphone blast out there on the web, so that then it populates and then it becomes cool because now more people hearing about it, you've gotten over that background noise that people are trying to deal with all the time on the web, social media. I

William Harris  40:07  

think that's brilliant. And I'd say that's something that we've seen with influencer, that can help as well is if somebody just dipped their toe and I'm going to use this one influencer, I'm going to use this one influencer. Oftentimes, it's not as effective as the combination of several influencers all at once hitting it at the same time. Yeah,

Robb Akridge  40:26  

and that's it. If you look at the way people still push their books and stuff on television, they're making the circuit, right, they're not just going to one of the major national networks, they're going to all of them within a very short period of time, and being on all the talk show host shows at the pier time. So they can try to get that wave of information out there, so that everybody hears about it. You know, in the early days, when I was young, there was only like two. But on the West Coast, there'd be a trend that would happen, and it would migrate to the east coast of the United States. And then trends what happened on the East Coast, you know, and or Detroit, for example, Motown, and then it would migrate down into the West. And there was always this back and forth movement across the United States. Oh, that's really cool in LA, but no one had heard about it. And you know, in Florida, so now it's, it doesn't matter where you are in the world. It's just like, you gotta have a really big voice. And it's no longer this migration and amplification slowly, it's like, boom, yeah, how can I get it to happen?

William Harris  41:26  

It's almost instant. Yeah, your story about Hushpuppies reminded me of another story that I just thought of, to have another just a good example of things becoming cool that way, Red Bull, from what I understand. And if I remember studying that, in marketing school, they went to a bunch of nightclubs and took crushed up cans of Red Bull and just deposit them around the trash can, but not in the trash can. Right. So it was just like you just saw and you're thinking, boy, what's this drink that everybody's drinking? I gotta try whatever that is.

Robb Akridge  41:58  

That's cool. That's a great way to do it. Yeah, I need to leave my low wrappers. propolis. Around, although they go into their papers.

William Harris  42:06

Yeah, exactly. Well,

Robb Akridge  42:09

you know, that's sort of the sad thing is that remember what just real quick, I was in New York City once and, you know, we were in the middle of Clarisonic. And I was with a marketing guy. And he looked down, he says, we've made it I go, What do you mean, he points at the ground, and there was a clarisonic container box flattened on garbage on the streets of Manhattan? And it's like, wow, you know, it's sort of sad because someone threw it away. But it's, it shows your brand's right there. And it's made big time. Right.

William Harris  42:38  

Yeah. Yeah. Something else that I wanted to ask you about? And then I want to get into the personal side of who is Dr. Robb, but you sold over 250 million on QVC. Right? I want to know, some of the stories but more specifically, I want to know, what's the craziest thing that you've ever seen happen on set or, you know, something you were talking

Robb Akridge  43:01  

right? So so for those that don't know, QVC is truly live, I mean, they actually you have given a time and you actually show up and you go to operations room, and you know, they know the basic format of your product, you know how long it's going to take to sell it, you give you 10 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever it is, and you get microphones and then they send you out onto the floor. And then this shows usually like, you know, beauty show, or sometimes they have cocktail hours, you know, like they're, they have a pretend party. And so, you know, because of the popularity of Clarisonic goes on quite a bit. And so we had they created this this is the strangest thing ever. They created this cocktail party and the set itself is far removed from where you get microphones, I mean, it's like almost a city block away you have to walk through all these corridors and everything to get there. And so they put a mic on me and these are landing are just like I have on now the batteries go down right after a period of time they burn fast. So I get up, get out and they grab me before I go out the door and they sell your batteries are dead. So they put a new battery so my mic had already died, right? You don't want to have that happen when you're on live TV. So you get to the set. And there's you know, they've had it set up beautifully. They had waiters with wine glasses on trays and they had our d'oeuvres and everybody was in you know, their best, you know, evening where you're supposed to dress up. They actually had a little trio band, a jazz band playing in the background. It looks it looks great. I'm going on a certain time period but other people are going on. And all of a sudden one of the producers sort of flags me down and says oh the host her mic Stein. We want your mic. So they took my mic away and they put it on her and then they give me another mic later on but I'm getting ready to go on and this is a I won't mention it. She's stunning. She was the most brilliant beauty host out there offer QVC at the time, and she was just stunning. And so she's talking and she could sell anything and so she was talking about the This product, and then I get on air. And you know, there's still images, they put up a still image of your product, right. And then they talk about what it is and everything else. And so they have these still images they can throw up there. So I had already given her my mic, thrown a new mic on me. I'm going through all my tuck stuff and getting it on. And then all of a sudden, I go live, and I'm there. And we're talking and all of a sudden, my mic dies. So she's she keeps talking. I'm live on air, and they throw up a still image. And I had nothing to talk to, except her microphone, which was in her breasts in her very low. No. So I'm talking to her boobs to put it bluntly, and tried today. And you know what? We saw at $7,000 a minute, I saw almost a million dollars in 10 minutes. Wow, it was just it was wild. And the thing is it I love QVC because you can't you have to be on your feet all the time. You can't let anything flush you I've had lights explode, people walk in front of cameras, they've had coffee spilled in our set. 10 seconds before we go on air. You know, all the things that could go wrong, but you just have to just roll with it because it's live. And that's what makes that QVC very exciting. Because you never know and when they call in I mean, I've had people call in at two in the morning. You know Jana show it to in the morning. And totally drunk off there. You know what, talking to Robb, you know, it's just so wild. And, and the host is handling these drunk callers. And you just sort of roll with it. And it's so nice talking to you get some rest.

William Harris  46:41

That is, that might be the best story I've ever. I mean, the best story. Yeah, but seriously, the show must go on. And I think that's a lot of fun. I want to get

Robb Akridge  46:53  

a big, sorry, real quick QVC can be a big risk for people that want to go on QVC, you have to be really confident of your product you have to be well, I've seen people basically mortgaged their house to get into inventory to go on air, and then they don't sell anything. So it can be a big gamble. And so when it works, and it clicks, gosh, you can sell so much. But if if you can afford it, and you can get the right margin and you can go on it can be a challenge for some people, I've seen people fly across the pond, as they say, go on air and sell three products when they're supposed to sell 300 Right. So

William Harris  47:29  

in that situation are these brands that had already proven that they had the right message didn't sell on QVC some of them

Robb Akridge  47:38  

were on QVC like UK, which we were also successful and but they would come over here and it just didn't resonate with the US consumer.

William Harris  47:47  

Wow. Yeah, that's tough. I want to get into the who is Dr. Robb phase of this? And we talked a little bit about this, but I'm just gonna leave it with you. Tell me about your childhood. tell you my childhood. Yeah. What made you who you are?

Robb Akridge  48:07  

Well, Oprah would say everybody's born with a little light and some people's lights glow more than others. And so I think I have a really bright light I was very fortunate come from, you know, a divorced family single mom and lives with my mom and grandmother from the age of nine in a Hispanic I'm half Latino. So it's like I only white looking kid in the whole family. And to get kidded about that quite a bit. Because I look white. But the thing is, is that it was very humble. My mother made $3,000 A year and and my grandmother got a $400 a month Social Security check. And that's what the three of us lived on. And it was tight. And so for me to get out even to get like a used to love lemon meringue pies to get a lemon meringue pie once a month was like the best treat ever because we just couldn't afford anything and no one had gotten all of my family on that side or construction steel high rise welders my brother who's a lot older from another marriage he was a welder. My grandfather was a welder. My my brother worked on the World Trade Tower on 100 and third floor when they were putting that up way back when so you know Yeah, so there were there blue collar, no family and I'm the only one that went to college. You know, my mom had this mantra if you want to do that you gotta go to college. So when anything I'd say you know, I want to be a marine biologist. Oh, you got to go to college. I want to be whatever you gotta go to college. So she kept in graining that in me and yeah, so I went to college I have a bachelor's degree in University of Texas and mammalogy marine biology, my micro algae emphasis and then I have a master's in mycology and nonvascular plants from Southwest Texas state i. And then between that I worked in pediatric cardiology as a research assistant that worked in neurobiology and anatomy as a research assistant Canada biosynthesis of catecholamines which just means it was a biochemistry lab. And then I went to the Texas a&m and got a PhD in infectious disease in immunology, but it's really the title is microbiology, but that was the emphasis worked on parasites and how they avoid your immune system. And then from there came to Seattle, Washington and worked on HIV one and aids vaccines for two postdoctoral fellowships. So I am a nerd, a scientist, but I just sort of go all over and you know, from the infectious disease, I went to work for Sonicare toothbrush and looked at gingivitis and periodontitis and mouth healthcare. So

William Harris  50:37  

were you precocious then as well, like, you always had that kind of mind. Because I'll say, I, I read the addiction as a kid. And a lot of people think that's weird, but it's like nine, I remember covering a cover reading the dictionary and writing down the words I found interesting and enjoyable. It's like, Were you that way? Now

Robb Akridge  50:55  

is it so much into the, to the words of it, I was more I was more into, like, the literature and just, you know, British lit and stuff when I was little and sonnets and things like poetry and that type of thing. And, you know, it was the two little hippie kid, you know, sort of, sort of all natural, and it's, it's, you know, that type of thing, which is interesting, because I still believe that, you know, I think that we should have too many different ingredients that are out there that we shouldn't have. And but anyway, so yeah, so my life was quite interesting. I had a great childhood, great upbringing. But then that really helped me out when it came to, like, I helped the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center set up a global network of labs, to set to test experimental aids vaccines, and I would travel all over the world I had, was responsible for 22 Labs in 14 countries looking at. So the reason this all came about, there's still a program grant at the, at the Fred Hutch, Larry quarry is in charge of it. He's an awesome guy. And Julie McEwan was my mentor. She's awesome. But they basically wanted to set up this network to test these experimental AIDS vaccine. So when companies like Merck, one of the huge costs to developing a vaccine is doing the clinical studies. So and then, at the time, you know, way back when they were trying to develop an AIDS vaccine just for the type of H AIDS virus we have here in the United States, people don't realize it, but there's all these clades of virus to their HIV one. So if you did that, you would only have a vaccine that could protect people in the United States against the virus that's here. But the way we travel, it didn't make sense because you develop it and next thing, the other played from somewhere else would get into the states. So they decided to do this global effort. So when Merck or name another company that's developing a vaccine, they want to test it, they would, you know, do a safety study, they do 25 People and Dominican Republic, they do 25 People and Chiang Mai, Thailand, they do 25 People in Durban, South Africa, and they would just move it around. And that way they could compare all the data to make sure that the vaccine was working no matter where you were in the world. And so a noble effort, and that allowed me to go into places that people don't want to go into like Haiti or, you know, some of the places, Botswana, Malawi, but like, I worked in Soweto, I mean, I love sweat, oh, no people there, everybody's afraid of, you know, people that are poor. They're just poor. I mean, and in a lot of circumstances are beyond their control, that they're there, right. And so, you know, but to do a clinical study in a place like a township like South Africa, Soweto, it's challenging because a lot of people, they don't have addresses, they have a place that they've squatted. How do you track them? How do you maintain them? How do you keep them coming back to your clinic? So that part of my life was just just phenomenal. I mean, I loved working there. Yeah, and I'll tell one story, just to give you an idea of this is South Africa, before they had retrovirals, but the government didn't want to give their people rent antiretrovirals. So we fly in and we're having to set up the sites this clinical site, and there's a team of people, there's a pharmacist, a clinician, all these people are set up different components, I'm responsible for the labs, right. And you go down this corridor, they had these outdoor breezeways, and had to go from point A to point B every morning, and they would have these journeys on there. And they would be the people would be in white white sheets, they're taking these patients out for air, they wouldn't be black, black, black, because they were from the bush, you know, their, their skin was really dark. And they all had HIV, and they're all going to die. There was nothing to do for them. And they would you go by this, this gauntlet every day and they'd be 30 of these things. And people were just skin and bones and you can see shallow breathing of the sheets and you just walk this. So every day it's like okay, this is a real deal. People in the states don't really know how much of an impact I mean, it's Doing globally. And then one time I was in this, I'm gonna get choked up here. I was in this clinic who was for women. And he went in and there's this roundtable, they're teaching these women 15. At most new moms, they just had a baby, how to mix powdered formula because you can't breastfeed if you have HIV. And they had all given birth, and they all had little babies with them tiny babies. And they introduced us as a team and the and they asked the monitor the person who was teaching them a question, and I knew the question they ask us, we're working on vaccines to prevent people from getting the virus, if the work that we were doing was going to be able to save them. And it can't, because they already have the virus, they're already going to get sick. So then you walk into the next room, and there is this wall of shoe boxes mean like It's like 12 feet tall and 30 feet long. And all these shelves are these boxes, and they're all decorated and all unique and painted different colors, and some of them real fun, and they have glitter on them. And I said, What are these? And then the nurse tells us, Oh, these are memory boxes and go, What do you mean? He says, Well, these are boxes that the moms make and put things in there. So because by the time their child gets old enough to ask about their mom, their mom will be dead. So they can open it up and learn about their mom. It's it was just like, Oh, my God, it was heart wrenching. Because, you know, you see all these lives in boxes, and there's nothing you can do nothing. So now we have antiretrovirals and people can can live a normal life, but at that time, no. And the thing is, in the United States, we had a zero positive rate of about 3%. So about 3% of the population are HIV positive. But in Botswana, where we had one of our sites, and however only about one Botswana, it was 40%. So 40% of the people at the time, had the virus, and there was nothing you could do. Pretty crazy, huh? That's why I'm in beauty.

William Harris  57:07

Yeah, I, there's not really a good way to transition from that. That is a very moving and powerful story. And I think just something that I asked, but the great thing, what the? Yeah, go ahead.

Robb Akridge  57:22

Say one great thing is that those people, all the people in the world that that I got to know, they would give the shirt off their back, even if they didn't have a shirt, and they're just awesome. And it's like, what I learned from that whole experience is that we're more alike than we are different. People love their cultural food, they like to talk about it and share it with people. They love a good joke, they love to laugh, and they all want their children to have a better life than they did. And once you know that, it doesn't matter if you're a Catholic, Jewish, you know, name of religion, Buddhists, or black, white, pink, it doesn't matter, because we're all humans. And we all want the same thing. Right? Yeah, it was pretty, it was pretty insightful. Yeah, but not to Weigh Down. No,

William Harris  58:05  

but you know, that's where it's like, I, I oftentimes ask people what they're afraid of. And I think about that myself, too. It's like, you know, what am I afraid of, and it's like, boy, that's, that's out there, right? Like, being able to be in a situation where you're putting memories into a box, for your children, knowing that you won't be there. There's a song by India, arry that I like, where she talks about from the perspective of this father, whatever, who was, I think, apparently about to die. And he says, tell them that their dad, he was a good man. And I remember when I was having kids, I just remember just listening to that. And it's like, no matter what it's like, I want to make sure that I passed on that legacy. It's like, Hey, your dad was a young man. And exactly, I'm glad that you were able to help people out as a really important, impactful thing and, and that you're taking it you know, even further, right, like the economic or the environmental impact of what you're doing here at OPULUS. It sounds like that's a really, that's a big deal, too. So, yeah. What about this is such a horrible transition, because I don't have a good one. But what makes you magical? So outside of doing some absolutely amazing things for our world? What what is something that somebody would say, This is what makes you magical?

Robb Akridge  59:24  

I think my ability to communicate things that are very complex and make it very simple to understand, I think that's a magical thing about me to take distill things down to give you the essence, and I think, I don't know, I think magical, I guess the fact that I have endurance, and I've had all my life people tell me, Oh, no, you can't do that. You know, you're too poor. You're this that and you just don't listen to them. You just you have to have that in there. Are the inner belief, not an arrogance, there's a difference. You don't need to be arrogant. You just have to believe and be confident in yourself, and know that you can do it, and you can make it happen. So I don't think a lot of people do that people are very afraid of themselves and they don't they, they second guess themselves and and you have to just be sure that yeah, I am good enough for this, I can do that I can make it happen. I mean, look at OPULUS OPULUS is a dream from a chocolate shop.

William Harris  1:00:28  

Right, which is such a fantastic origin story. I'm reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. And you know, one of the chapters in the book talks about the 10,000 hours thing. And pretty much across the board, in every field in everything. Nobody gets to that point without putting in that even Mozart, right, like he talks about, right. And I think to your point where it's like, the only time that you fail in this game is when you quit. That's it. Yes, for the most part, if you stay in the game, you will put in the time, you may not be the Michael Jordan of your field, but you will be successful in your field. I heard him speak at

Robb Akridge  1:01:12

a plastic surgery meeting, plastic surgery meeting or Orlando, Florida. And it was packed with surgeons. And his question to them was like, How many of you been practicing for more than 10 years? How many of you would say that after 10 years, you really felt comfortable in your craft. I mean, like the whole audience. So there is something in that. And he goes on to in that book, he goes on to explain that. That's why they think the way medical schools are designed to pack all that information. People say, Oh, it's cool, because they're working 24 hours a day. And you know, they just don't have time to do anything. But it's like, let's just focus in and concentrate and give these people every information and keep them working so that they can get that 10,000 hours under their under their belt, so that they can actually become, you know, experts in their areas. Right. That's a great book, by the way. It's an old book, but it's a great book,

William Harris  1:02:08

it is your right. And I can't believe that it took me this long to read it. It's been on my reading list for forever. And I'm like finally, finally starting though. What are other areas that you're up arrow in your life. So up arrow is from a mathematical thing called Knuth up arrow, which is for making very, very, very big numbers. What are ways that you're up arrowing maybe relationships or health or something else like that you're improving your your personal life,

Robb Akridge  1:02:35  

my personal life, I think it's well, for those that don't know, I'm gay, and I have a partner for 39 years. And it's always about us working together and, and building a better relationship and a better life. And one a part of that is right behind me. We're actually talking from what we call the OPULUS dream lab where we created the original formulas for our product. But this is on our property, but we have 31 acres with a salmon stream down the middle. And the big thing we're trying to improve on is salmon hat, salmon habitat. So we're diversifying the plants and things around the creek to give the salmon a better chance at multiplying. And we're seeing it pay off. And we we have we this year, we had a great coho run, we have two runs one is called chum salmon. And we have coho and the coho are the biggest run we've had. And we've owned this property since I guess we've owned it since 2004, but really haven't lived here since about 2011. It was raw land. But yeah, so that's the thing is like, how do we actually improve for those that don't know, logging practices used to cut the trees down right next to the creek, and that would allow more sunlight in it changes the temperature of the water, which isn't good for salmon eggs or the fry. And so what you want is a nice, shady area that's not it's protected. And you need a lot of woody debris in the creek because a lot of animals eat salmon. So the more places that there are the logs and things for the salmon to hide, they have a better chance at reproducing. So we're creating, we planted all these trees along the banks to hopefully help maintain the temperature and shade it and yeah, we're seeing the when we bought this property, it was all Douglas firs, which means just one type of tree. And that's not a good forest for animals. So as we thinned it out, and we've created new environments, and we put in different kinds of sub sub canopy trees. More birds came it was actually quiet here when we bought the property, no noise at all. No birds, because who wants to be in a stark forest of all one type of tree. So now it's like in the morning, they just start chattering and you hear birds and we have all kinds of birds here now and it's all it makes you feel good.

William Harris  1:04:48

That's really cool. I understand you're also big individualization and how that can improve your life as well. Yeah, yeah. So

Robb Akridge  1:04:58

yeah, that's it. too, I really do believe that if you put it out to the universe, and you think about it in a positive way that it actually can manifest itself. For example, at Clarisonic, when we started that, I saw this ad for this Jaguar car that was just, it was just and I just loved Jaguars. And I thought, oh, man, I gotta get this car. So I cut out the ad. And I went around to everybody in the company and said, when we sell Clarisonic, I'm gonna buy this Jaguar. And I went around, and I had it on my desk and my, my board, and I would look at it every day. And we sold the company and I went out to the Jaguar dealer, and I bought a jaguar, nice.

William Harris  1:05:42  

A lot of times, I feel like people could think that, you know, visualization is is not scientific neuroscientist, I could consider myself to be a scientist of a sort, not to the level that you are. But there is a really good study that I liked that I tell people about. And you and I talked about this a little bit before, and I haven't pulled up over here. Cleveland Clinic did it. I think it was back in 2003. Here from looking at PubMed directly, where they had patients visualize working out, they did not actually work out. But they had two exercises one with the visualize something with their finger and one that they visualized with their bicep. And at the end of I think it says 12 weeks here 15 minutes a day, five days a week, just imagining working out, the strength in their finger increased by 35%. And the strength in their looks like elbow flexion increased by 13 and a half percent. There was a workout. Just in the time that we're talking. I'm

Robb Akridge  1:06:44  

already ripped. I can already out there. Yeah, there you go. I love ya. But but the thing is, is that we talked about this briefly, but I was used to work at the UT Health Science Center facility in Houston. And across the street was MD Anderson, and other cancer area. And they actually did I think it was MD Anderson that did the study or I saw it somewhere where they took children that had leukemia. And you know, the PacMan game though old fat. Yeah, you know, that went around. They gave these kids different groups, they gave them some got this PacMan game. And they told them that the Pac Man was their body and the things that it was eating were the cancer cells, and to go ahead and visualize that your body was destroying the cancer. And they they showed that they I don't remember what level or percentage or anything, but they showed improvement and the children that actually watched this. And they told their mind that they were going to get better, and they were actually attacking the bad cells. So it's I believe that I believe in the power of the mind to do that, to change to help your body. Alright,

William Harris  1:07:47

well, I think we're only beginning to understand it. I've seen some research suggesting that the brain is wired in 11 dimensions of thought. And so I can only imagine what we'll discover. Yeah, we're research. Dr. Robb, it's been absolutely amazing talking to you. If people wanted to work with you, or follow you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Robb Akridge  1:08:13  

Well, let me go ahead. And I'm gonna I'm gonna do the the shameless plug, lover. So this is a, let's say, this is OPULUS. And so that's how it's spelled OPULUS. You can reach me at Dr. Robb@opulusBeautylabs.com. And you just write to me and you can find find me there. So no, no problem at all. And we'll I mean, it was like, let me get this camera going. It was awesome. I loved talking with you. And good luck in your series. It's great. It's awesome. So thank you very much.

William Harris  1:08:53  

Appreciate that a lot. I hope you have a good rest of your day and everyone for tuning in. I appreciate you listening and hope you have a good day too.

Outro 1:09:01  

Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Up Arrow Podcast with William Harris. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.

We think you'll also like...

The Joys and Challenges of Taking a Retail Brand Public as a Female CEO With Stephanie Pugliese

On this episode of the Up Arrow Podcast, William Harris welcomes Stephanie Pugliese, the former President of the Americas at Under Armour, to talk about how she became a respected CEO. Stephanie shares how to scale past $100 million in annual revenue, the role of authenticity in corporate settings, and how she balances her personal and professional life.

Using DTC Marketing Tactics To Grow Your Brand With Cindy Marshall

In this episode of the Up Arrow Podcast, William Harris welcomes Cindy Marshall, Founder and CEO of SHINE Strategy, to talk about DTC marketing strategies. Cindy discusses the SHINE roadmap, common challenges in the retail industry, and universal e-commerce branding advice.

The Future of Ecommerce With Shopify's President: Harley Finkelstein

In today’s special episode of the Up Arrow Podcast, the President of Shopify, Harley Finkelstein, joins William Harris to discuss how to prepare for the future of e-commerce. Harley discusses the role of cryptocurrency in Shopify’s ecosystem, provides advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, and explores the evolution of entrepreneurship.